Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Voting Via Democrats Abroad

Last February my husband and I drove from San Pancho to the nearby town of Cruz de Huanacaxtle, located the polling place in the back of Philo´s Restaurant, and, with considerable delight, cast our vote in the first Global Democratic Primary. Thanks to the organization Democrats Abroad, we were choosing nine delegates to go to the convention, and we were able to vote at an actual site in the newly created Costa Banderas district. Yes, we could have voted online, but this was much more fun.

No polling place in Mexico would be available for the general election, however. Frequent emails from Democrats Abroad gave us instructions for casting a ballot outside the U.S. but we were dubious that it would actually be counted. We had tried in 2004 to cast an absentee ballot in New Mexico and, to make a long story short, had failed. Still, the Democrats Abroad process seemed our best option.

Though we have closed out our lives in the U.S. and have become residents of Mexico, we haven´t stopped caring intensely about what happens in el otro lado—the other side. In the last years we have wished we could stop caring, but that American mix of hope, disappointment, responsibility, that beautiful dream—it won´t let us go. We wanted to vote.

We followed our Democrats Abroad instructions, sent in our registration particulars for our old home state of New Mexico, and received official write-in ballots to print out. We filled them out in solemn ceremony at the kitchen counter and faxed them in. But two weeks before the election we each began getting emails from the Registrar of Voters in New Mexico asking if we wanted an absentee ballot faxed to us. She emailed again and again. Had we voted or had we not? Finally, Jonathan called her.

“Oh, Mr. Kingson! Yes, we have your write-in ballots right here. Certainly, we’ll count them! No problem.”

Wow! Way better than a touch screen. But it turns out we shouldn’t have worried. We learned today that in our entire county there were only five Republican votes.

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